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UKAID Department for International Development (R4D) 2001

Improving community spate irrigation systems in semi-arid regions

Irrigation Semi-arid

UKAID Department for International Development (R4D)

Titre : Improving community spate irrigation systems in semi-arid regions

Projet de recherche pour le Développement : R8065

DFID Programme : Water

Organismes de mise en œuvre
Joint Financiers : Tihama Development Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Yemen
Lead Institutes : HR Wallingford Group Ltd
Managing Institutes : HR Wallingford Group Ltd
Collaborating Institutes : Baluchistan Irrigation and Drainage Board ; Faculty of Forestry, Universiti Pertanian

Durée : 01-10-2001 / 30-03-2004

Spate irrigation supports the livelihoods of large numbers of economically marginal farmers in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Irrigation practice and organisation are very different from conventional perennial irrigation, having evolved to cope with the inherent uncertainty in the number, timing, and magnitude of uncontrolled spate flows. Substantial investments to improve the livelihoods of spate irrigators were made in the 1970s and 80s in Pakistan and the Republic of Yemen. The approach was based on linking traditional community spate systems, so that they could be supplied from new multi-gated river intakes and conventionally designed canal networks. Many of these initiatives have proved to be more or less unsuccessful, due to high O and M costs, inappropriate institutional and engineerng concepts, and disputes between communities over water rights, etc. Following this experience, more recent developments in Pakistan and Eritrea are based on simpler incremental improvements to farmer operated community systems, building on the strengths of traditional spate irrigation, while providing options that enable farmes to handle uncontrolled spate flows and the very high sediment loads. In Yemen, parts of agency managed spate schemes are now to be returned to community management. These approaches offer the best chance of providing sustainable improvements to the livelihoods of subsistence farmers in regions where spate flows can be diverted. Little guidance is available to organisations (Development Agencies, NGOs, consultants, etc.) involved in resolving the complex interaction of engineering, agronomic, social and institutional issues involved when spate irrigation is to be improved, or extended to new areas. (This was highlighted as a constraint by FARM-Africa, when attempting to obtain guidance to support development of DFID-funded spate irrigation systems in Southern Ethiopia). The project aims to remove this constraint, through research to identify the technical and institutional factors that have resulted in successful improvements to spate irrigation systems, relating these to specific local conditions. There is much to be learned from some farming communities, who have developed sophisticated water control and water sharing arrangements, and the accumulated experience of agencies involved in developing spate irrigation. A high proportion (70% or more) of rural communities in semi-arid areas rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Irrigation, which in the regions considered is often only feasible by diversion of spate flows from ephemeral rivers, has the potential to be the most effective means of sustaining rural livelihoods - and making a substantial contribution to poverty reduction. (Spate irrigation is almost exclusively used for the production of subsistence, rather than commercial crops). The research outputs will benefit the poorer elements of spate irrigating communities, including sharecroppers and landless workers providing labour

Total Cost to DFID : £358,545

Présentation : UKAID

Page publiée le 26 septembre 2015, mise à jour le 29 octobre 2017